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A public meeting of students was also scheduled to be held on 11 September for the same purpose. The armed forces - under its new leadership - finally ended their hesitation and struck at dawn on Tuesday 11 September. The military institutions were completely united - the army under General Pinochet, the navy under Admiral Merino, the airforce under General Leigh and the carabineros under General Mendoza. They were also remarkably effective, bypassing likely centres of resistance and taking immediate control of radio and television centres and the main government buildings.

The main beneficiaries of this amnesty were not Pinochet and the military but rather the Left, though you would hardly think it now. Under it 1475 left-wingers, previously condemned by military courts for subversive or terrorist activity, were released; so were 578 military and police personnel.. Far from being considered an obstacle to peace and reconciliation, the amnesty was widely welcomed as a generous move, notably in a statement by the archbishop of Santiago. This is particularly significant since by and large the Catholic hierarchy in Chile were hostile to Pinochet.


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